Sunday, January 15, 2006

52. Week 1 in Korea

Okay, well, I’m here.  In the Land of Morning Calm… that’s Korea for those of you who have never heard that before… I hadn’t until a few days before I arrived.  I’ve been here for a week, but honestly, I kind of feel like I’ve been here forever!  And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean that… well, I feel like I’ve been here forever.  There’s no other way to say that.  There are all these things I’ve been warned about – parents complaining about me, racist taxi drivers – actually racist everyone, the director criticizing me, none of these things have happened yet, but I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve only been here for a week, so they are still very likely to happen.  

The racist thing is interesting, and I’m not sure if ‘racist’ is the right word.   But according to one of the other Canadian teachers, one of the things I can expect is some ‘confusion’ about my race because I’m Canadian but not white.  Apparently the director of the school showed him (the Canadian teacher) my picture about a thousand times to ask if I was “really from Canada”.  It’s funny, in Canada I constantly have to put up with comments like “Are you sure you’re black?  You’re so light skinned.”… but well, here they have no doubts about that.  One of the kids actually said “Teacher… your skin… it’s…um… black!”  It’s really not.  I have white friends who are darker than me… even more in the summer when they all seem to tan so much better than me.  It’s very frustrating.  

Anyway, back to Korea.  I’m liking my job so far.  I am mainly responsible for the kindergarten class – which range in age from 4-6 (they are all 6 or 7 according to the way Koreans count age, that was confusing for me at first, because all the kids were way too small to be that old).  The previous teacher was apparently not very good (they let him go), and the class has no discipline.  I know they are young, but I’ve worked with younger kids who are better behaved.  And it’s not that the kids are bad, they are just used to running things, so they have to get used to the fact that I’m in charge.  I’m not usually very strict as a teacher, but I’m having to be.  I’m hoping to get them in line fairly soon, so that I can go back to my normal teaching style, which is much more laid back.

The weirdest thing about the school is the video cameras.  All the classrooms have video cameras, and there are TVs in the lobby where the parents can watch us.  It’s a weird feeling.  So far I’ve only been watched once, but that will change next week.  I am taking over a class that the parents watch regularly.  Fun!

I’ve eaten things I would never have thought of… I’m sort of living by a “eat first, ask questions later” policy.  I figure that way I can figure out what I like without being prejudiced against it.  In doing this I have found out that I like dried, sliced, sticky squid and a weird fried fish/egg paste thing.  

My living arrangements are pretty much what I expected… perhaps a little smaller than I thought, but well, I didn’t expect much.  It’s one room about the size of a decent sized living room.  I’ve got the internet though, so that’s the most important thing!

I went to a Korean church this morning that had English translation.  The thing is, besides the translator, I was the only English speaker there, so I think next time I will try the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which apparently has services in English so there must be more English speakers there.  It’s not that I don’t want to hang out with Koreans, it just that part of the point of church is the fellowship, and I can’t really fellowship with people I can’t speak with, you know?

In keeping with the theme of this blog, the sermon was interesting.  The pastor brought up homosexuality (particularly gay couples who don’t hide the fact that they are gay couples) as evidence of society’s degenerate nature.  That sort of stuff is always fun to listen to.  

Oh, and the first day of school I heard the other English speaking staff joking about a little girl (who is 5 or 6 by the way) that they believe is a lesbian.  They weren’t being malicious though, so I wasn’t upset or anything.  But Korea being what it is, I have no intention of coming out here.  

And not that it’s all that relevant, but one of the Canadian teachers went to high school with Tricia Helfer – who plays Six on the new Battlestar Galactica (which is, I think, my favourite show on television right now – yes, I know, I’m a nerd.  And proud of it!  Besides, the show rocks.  It’s not my fault there’s a hot girl on it.).   He actually was her ‘date’ at a lot of her early modeling events.  I’m normally into the ‘hot blonde’ types, but… well, she’s… hot (and I hunted to find the least provocative pictures of her).  And she’s just so good on Battlestar Galactica.   See, if I was out, I would have sat right down and peppered him with questions about her, but instead I just nodded and said I thought she was an amazing actress, and that I love her show.  Ah well, it’s not that important.


Willie Hewes said...

I'll say she's an amazing actress. *ahem*

Anyway, good to hear you're getting on in Korea. You show those kids what's what. *rooting for you*

How could they be 6 or 7 by another reckoning though? Even if you put newyear somewhere else, the year's still the same length, isn't it?

JJ said...

Ah, the age thing! By Korean reckoning, when you are born, you are 1 year old. And then, the first Lunar New Year you hit (which is in February) you turn two. So, technically, you could be two years old in Korea before you would be even 1 in Canada.

And yes, Tricia Helfer is a good actress... who just happens to be hot! Not my fault!

Jessica said...

I'm so glad you made it safely. :) Btw, as a parent, I REALLY like the idea of being able to watch my teacher teach my daughter. That is a fantastic idea! lol Ok, yes, I am a whacko mama. Can't help it. My daughter has this weird teacher this year and I'd just love a chance to watch him "teach" his class. Oy! Stay safe, Sistah. And, Happy MLK, Jr. Day. :) (Btw, I had that same problem of people trying to figure out "what I am" most of my life, and I live in the US!) Doesn't that confuzzled look they get, crack you up? It's like they should be on a cartoon or something. lol Take care. Good luck with your classes.

Angel said...

So glad to finally hear from you :)

Good luck with your rowdy class (and the parents!!)

Ash said...

Good luck, JJ!

Justin said...

I see that you were one of the ones' targeted by Maureen.

I've found out she's not all that she claims to be.

JJ said...


Maureen is crazy whether she's authentic or not. I've quite purposely avoided commenting on her blog because I don't want her showing up here. I don't know how she found me, but she's thankfully never commented here, so I'm happy!